This movie has so much potential but John Dall is totally miscast and Peggy Cummins is good but missing that tough edge to pull it off. The Victor Young soundtrack belongs in another movie. A real bad fit. This could have been a classic crime movie. Too bad.
Bart Tare (John Dall) has always been obsessed with guns. As a fourteen year old (Rusty Tamblyn) he breaks into a store and steals some guns. He drops one running in the rain. It lands in front of a cop.
At his trial his sister Ruby says he’s been obsessed with guns ever since he got his first BB gun at seven. He killed a baby chick and ever since has never wanted to kill anything. His friends tell the judge that he had a chance to shoot a mountain lion once but just couldn’t do it. The judge says he’s on trial for burglary and Bart is sent off to reform school.
Now he’s out of school and the army and returns to his home town. He and his friends, one who is now the sheriff, go to a carnival. Bart becomes smitten with Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins). She’s a modern day Annie Oakley and could be a centerfold in Guns & Ammo.
Packett owns the concession where Annie does her act. The challenge is made to anyone in the audience who can out shoot her. Of course Bart does. He ends up joining the carnival. Packett’s not happy they’re attracted to each other. He thinks he owns her. He reminds her about a man she killed in St.Louis. She tells him off and he fires both of them.
They get married and travel around and lose almost everything in Vegas. She tells him she wants to live large. If he doesn’t want to…she’s walking. To stay together they make a good armed robbery team. After one job the cops are right behind them. Annie urges Bart to shoot. He hesitates until she finally goads him into it. He shoots out the cops front tire.
They spend it as fast as they get it. Now they’re in a cabin in Montana as the snow falls. Annie tells him they’re broke. She wants to do one last job. They get jobs at a meat packing plant with plans to rob the payroll.
The movie is still interesting from here on out but it’s distracting as you think about how good it could have been with different actors better suited for crime movies..
John Dall was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar as Morgan Evans in 1945’s “The Corn Is Green.” The winner was James Dunn for “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.”
Peggy Cummins became famous among horror fans as Joanna Harrington in 1957’s “Curse Of The Demon.”
Russ “Rusty” Tamblyn had a long acting career and appeared as Dr.Lawrence Jacoby in my favorite TV show of all time, “Twin Peaks” (1990-91).